Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav
Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India
Contact No. – 09415777229, 094055338
AHIMSA IN EDUCATION
This is not a new problem. It has been discussed threadbare in these columns off and on in one shape or another. But I know that I have not succeeded in making it absolutely clear to my readers. The task, I am afraid, is beyond my capacity. But I should be thankful if I could succeed in contributing somewhat to its solution. The introductory part of the question shows that questions be betraying a narrow outlook are often put. By unnecessarily exercising ourselves over conundrums about the justifiability of man’s killing creatures and animals of a lower order, we often seem to forget our primary duties. Every one of us is not faced every day with the question of killing obnoxious animals. Most of us have not developed courage and love enough to practice ahimsa with regard to dangerous reptiles. We do not destroy the vipers of ill-will and anger in our own bosom, but we dare to raise futile discussions about the propriety of killing obnoxious creatures and we thus move in a vicious circle. We fail in the primary duty and lay the unction to our souls that we are refraining from killing obnoxious life. One who desires to practice ahimsa must for the time being forgotten all about snakes, etc. Let him not worry if he cannot avoid killing them, but try for all he is worth to overcome the anger and ill-will of men by his patient endeavour as a first step toward cultivating universal love. Abjure brinjals or potatoes by all means, if you will, but do not for heaven’s sake begin to feel yourself self-righteous or flatter yourself that you are practicing ahimsa on that account.
The very idea is enough to make one blush. Ahimsa is not a mere matter of dietetics, it transcends it. What a man eats or drinks matters little; it is the self-denial, the self-restraint behind it that matters. By all means practice as much restraint in the choice of the articles of your diet as you like. The restraint is commendable, even necessary, but it touches only the fringe of ahimsa. A man may allow himself wide latitude in the matter of diet and yet may be a personification of ahimsa and compel our homage, if his heart overflows with love and melts at another’s woe, and has been purged of all passions. On the other hand a man always over scrupulous in diet is an utter stranger to ahimsa and a pitiful wretch, if he is a slave to selfishness and passions and is hard of heart. Whether India should have an army or not, whether or not one may offer armed resistance to Government, these are momentous questions that we shall have to solve one day. The Congress has in its creed already furnished an answer to them in part. But important as these questions are, they do not much concern the man in the street, they do not touch the aspect of ahimsa with which an educationist or a student is concerned. Ahimsa in relation to the life of a student stands quite apart from these questions of high politics. Ahimsa in education must have an obvious bearing of the mutual relations of the students. Where the whole atmosphere is redolent with the pure fragrance of ahimsa, boys and girls studying together will live like brothers and sisters, in freedom and yet in self-imposed restraints; the students will be bound to the teachers in ties of filial love, mutual respect and mutual trust. This pure atmosphere will of itself be a continual object lesson in ahimsa.
The students brought up in such an atmosphere will always distinguish themselves by their charity and breadth of view, and a special talent for service. Social evils will cease to present any difficulty to them, the very intensity of their love being enough to burn out those evils. For instance, the very idea of child-marriage will appear repugnant to them. They will not even think of penalizing the parents of brides by demanding dowries from them. And how dare they after marriages regard their wives as chattel or simply a means of gratifying their lust? How will a young man brought up in such an environment of ahimsa ever think of fighting a brother of his own or a different faith? At any rate no one will think of calling himself a votary of ahimsa and do all or any of these things. To sum up: Ahimsa is a weapon of matchless potency. It is the sum mum bonus of life. It is an attribute of the brave; in fact it is their all. It does not come within reach of the coward. It is no wooden or lifeless dogma, but a living and a life-giving force. It is the special attribute of the soul. That is why it has been described as the highest dharma (law). In the hands of the educationist therefore it ought to take the form of the purest love ever fresh, an ever gushing spring of life expressing itself in every act. Ill-will cannot stand in its presence. The sun of ahimsa carries all the hosts of darkness such as hatred, anger and malice before himself. Ahimsa in education shines clear and far and can no more be hidden, even as the sun cannot be hidden by any means. One may be sure that when the Vidyapith is filled with the atmosphere of this ahimsa, its students will no more be troubled by puzzling conundrums.